Worm bin notes: Brutal Heat, They Live!

Bins 2 & 3, Update 18.  Not much to note for the bins.  The heat wave continues with late night temperatures in the 80’s along with high humidity.  The photo below was taken shortly before writing these notes at about 3:00am.  Doesn’t look like it cools down much at night.

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 2.57.34 AM

July 16, 2019 03:00 hours.

 

The bin temperatures were 86.7 F with an ambient temp of 92, 55% humidity.  Both bins appear to have most of the waste consumed.  There were no odors.  A few spiders are starting to show up as expected.  That also indicates the frogs and lizards haven’t found a way in.  Still cannot figure where the frogs came from.

IMG_5237

Grub in red circle.

There is a new addition to bin 2 I haven’t seen before.  There were a couple of those grub looking things crawling around in there that I’ve seen in the compost bin.  Not sure what they are but hope they aren’t roaches.

AJ's Green Topics

AJ’s Green Topics YouTube Channel

If I don’t make a note about it, it’s not going to happen.  I had every intention to mention AJ’s Green Topics in update 16 & 17 but forgot.  He suggested I check the soil temperature.  Which is why the ambient and soil temperatures are now included in the updates.  As cool as the soil feels to the touch, the 86.7 F temperature cannot be ignored. Seems obvious now huh?  Go over to AJ’s YouTube channel and subscribe he has worm bins and other projects you may find of interest.   Thank you, AJ!

Since the heat is not letting up and it is still hurricane season I plan on ordering some type of mosquito netting to keep the spiders in check and out of the house in a day or so.  I’ll have to search for something that doesn’t have bug repellant in the material.  The video is below. -13

Worm bin notes: Heat Wave! They’re going to cook if something doesn’t change!

Bins 2 & 3, Update 17.  The weather over the last week or so has been hot. High 80’s into the 90’s during the day, in the low 80’s at night.  Last update(16) the bin temperature inside the bins read in the 80 degree range.  I thought there was something wrong with the compost thermometer I was using.  That prompted me to use a digital one from the kitchen.

What a surprise to discover how accurate it was.  The worm bin soil temperature readings were 86 degrees F for both bins.  That might explain why the waste hasn’t been consumed at the rate it usually is.  And also maybe why I’ve seen worms trying to escape the bin several times.

My issue is where to put the worms for a cooler temperature.  I have no other place to put them when it gets hot like this.  Not sure what to do.  I do have a fan blowing on the bins but don’t have much confidence it will help.  Since they aren’t’ consuming at the rate they usually do a lot of items are getting a little foul.

I also noticed the other insects in there didn’t seem to be as active as usual.  I’ve brought these into the living room during hurricanes.  The problem with that are the fruit flies and spiders that invade the house when I do.  Plus there is no space for them. Currently the living room is full of items from storage that we’re sorting through.  I’ll check the temperature in a few days then next week to see how the bins have advanced since this update.  -13

 

 

Worm bin notes: Time Lapse

Part of the Vermicompost Experiment includes managing all the videos and still images that accumulate for the project.  I don’t have enough digital storage to keep most of the files so they get deleted forever.  I had planned on making a video of each bin over a 6 to 12 month period.  That didn’t work out because I’ve been so far behind schedule on other projects.

I was able to photograph a 5 month period of continuous before and after images for bins 2 and 3.  Bin 1 was a little different but I did get enough to make a short video.  The images show what the bins look like with food waste then what it looks like after the worms have their way with it.  When I post the usual updates it’s not always easy to notice how much can change over a short period of time.

The time lapse videos make it much easier to see how capable the worms are turning waste into soil magic.  These have to be my favorite project videos so far.  The bin 1 video has a me explaining the experience.  The other videos for bins 2 and 3 have no speaking, only music.  Back to the video editing. -13

 

Bin 1 video.

Bin 2 video.

Bin 3 video.

Worm bin notes: Update 16 Bins 2 & 3

Bins 2 & 3, Update 16.  It’s been almost a month.  Hard to believe that much time has passed.  Still catching up on other projects.  Not much to report this update.  It was a hot, sweaty day, 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  I did use a compost thermometer to measure the inside temperature, it showed 80 degrees F.  That couldn’t have been correct because the substrate felt cool to the touch.  I’ll use a digital thermometer next time.

The plan this time was to pull all the castings from the bottom to the top.  That way the castings would get aerated and give me a chance to see how many worms are in the bin.  I looks like both bins have plenty of worms, maybe more than the space can handle.  I may have to start a new bin as I had been thinking.  Both bins had that freshly dug earthy smell.  No foul odors of any kind

Since I’ve loaded the bin up with a large amount of food I’ll come back in a week for a checkup. -13

 

 

Worm bin notes: Long overdue follow up

Bins 2 & 3, time for a few updates.  It has been some time since the last update.  Late last year was the last one.  When I recorded update 15 and went to edit I discovered two update videos that had never been edited.  Overall there hasn’t been much out of the ordinary going on with the worms, nothing worth recording.

During the filming of updates 12 – 14 there had been a lot of worm activity at the top of the bins.  Some times there were few, other times many.  I never noticed any foul odors or anything that would seem offensive to my perception.  The soil drains into the lower bin that is emptied regularly so that doesn’t seem like the soil is too wet.  It seems like there is enough food for them.  After watching some of the footage I’m thinking there are too many in each bin.  Also it seems like some food is too fresh, it needs to be more decomposed or something like it.  When it is a more decomposed state they swarm it until it disappears.

Update 13 video

Update 14 video

For update 15 there is a little of how my bins are set up and some video of the current conditions in each bin.  I decided to add some potatoes, vanilla bean and sand to see what happens.  If they don’t flee I’m considering starting another bin and rotating the soil in the bins possibly adding more moss or shredded cardboard.

Before I can do that I’ll need another floor dolly and a better way to cut cardboard the way I want too. Thinking of looking for a cheap bandsaw for the cardboard, the carpet knife is getting a little dangerous. It’s also hurricane season here these bins have to be kept clean and ready to roll inside the house. Not sure I’m ready to start another bin, having enough food will be an issue. Or maybe I can find another local who wants to start a bin and give them a portion of the worms.

This “experiment” has been fun and educational I always look forward to opening the bins and seeing what has changed. The next update should be interesting I’m mostly sure I’ll make major changes to bin 3 to see what is happening below the surface. -13

Worm bin notes: Ant Invasion = The End!

Update 12, Bin 1.  Everything was going well, Sept 7th checkup and addition of vegetable waste.  No foul odors, the roly poly population had been reduced, still not much worm activity to see but they were there.  I still think the other insects were beating the worms to the good stuff and that’s what slowed their progress down.

27 Sept, started to set up to film, that involves moving the bin out into the clear space then setting everything up.  As cleared items from around the bin I noticed ants on the lid of the bin.  I opened the bin as soon as I saw them and to my surprise and horror ants had invaded bin 1.

Couldn’t believe it.  How, I was wondering did the ants get past the moat?  After a past lesson, I learned to use and keep them full of water.  Once the ants get in, that’s it, there is no more using that bin. I would never be able to separate the worms from the ants.  Ants haul the food away and will attack the other insects, all the other insects stay on the food supply creating the casting and don’t attack each other.

Didn’t film most of it,  wanted to get that bin out as soon as possible to prevent it from happening to the others.  The only part I did film was evicting a frog and an anole, couldn’t find the gecko I had seen before.  Wanted to get them out so I could explore the substrate before it went into the compost bin.

Based on my experience with other worms and the volume of waste they were offered I would have expected them to be much larger in size and population.  The competition with the roly poly may have had a much larger effect than I expected.  The project is called the Vermicompost Experiment for a reason.

img_4872

Reasons! Ant bridge straight to the top!

The best part is the mistakenly taken photo that shows clearly how the plywood bridges the lid to the floor making the moat useless.  The plywood is sat up so it shades it from the sun.  I suspect it slipped over, or was moved by one of our cats chasing lizards, who knows?  Doesn’t matter it was a fun experiment.  Changes have been made to prevent it from happening again.  Maybe it will work.  That’s all for bin 1.

Bin 2 and 3 are still active so the experiment continues.  I’ll have to finish last years video then make an update on those two.  -13

Worm bin notes: No Vacuums!

Update 11, Bin 1.  I’ve killed them for sure.  So much for that plan.   Standing over the compost bin I open the stocking and all I see is a pile of dead roly poly that were as healthy as could be minutes before.  What a sinking feeling.

Simple plan, stick a piece of pantyhose over the end of my shop vac hose, fix it on with rubber bands, suck up the roly polys and kill them.  Not exactly what I had in mind and a surprising disappointment.

Vacuum them up and let them go, alive, was the purpose of the stocking.  Not sure what happened there but it was a miserable failure.  It’s an interesting experience to have.  The feelings created when I didn’t mean to harm something on purpose as opposed to when it is intentional.  After editing the video I see it would have been easy enough to take the cardboard outside and knock them off.  Lesson learned.

It looks like I moved enough out for now.  I think based on what I saw in the bin, that the roly poly are eating the waste before the worms get a chance to.  They weren’t anywhere near the surface that I could see.  I had to move things around to spot a few small ones.

I’m wondering if the worm population is doing well.  I expected to see many worms at the surface trying to get at the avocados.  Have to check back in a few days to see if there will be more worm activity around the waste. -13

Worm bin notes: Fleeing the Ferment?

Bins 2 & 3, Update 12.  This one starts without notes.  The footage was filmed during the WordPress whiteout mayhem.  There are several times where the worms are at the top of the bin on the ledge/lip that the lid sits on.  Also in the recess created by the molded in handhold.

IMG_0766

August 16th, Bin 2, Worm bunch in recess.

The photo above is bin two, from the 16th, when they were bunched up in the recess.  Scooped them out with a flattened plant stem and dropped them back in the bin.  Still hadn’t thought of the fermenting possibility at that point and left the mango like it was.  The photo below shows why.  There is a mess of activity on the salad with the mango close by.

IMG_0769

August 16th, Bin 2, Upper left mango, lower left worms devour salad.

IMG_0774

August 16th, Bin 2, Worms devour salad, mango close by.

It doesn’t look like there is much going on near the mango.  In the video it doesn’t look like any insects are going near it.  Didn’t catch that detail when taking a few quick photos of the progress.  Might not matter.  The video of bin three shows them all around the mangos at the same time.  Days later on the 18th it looks like they’re passing by.

IMG_0780

August 16th, Bin 3, Worms close to mangos.

IMG_0807

August 18th, Bin 3, Worms don’t seem interested.

Not sure what that means if anything.  I’m still thinking they’re avoiding the fermenting gasses while the mango were in that state.  I’ll be paying much more attention in the future.  Will also wait longer before putting in fruits so I can pull the skin off by hand or chop them up.  Won’t be putting whole fruits in like that again.

The other stuff looks good, no unwanted insects or reptiles.  No fermenting or other smells.  Added some Florida avocados to both bins on the 18th.  There are plenty of veg scraps I’ll get in tomorrow for a check-up and add it then.  -13

Current video with accurate Closed Captions below.

Worm bin notes: Check-up

Update 10, Bin 1.  My plan for this bin was to remove as many roly poly as I could, add waste and leave it alone.  I was surprised to find so little of the roly poly I didn’t remove any of them.  That changed after editing the video. In the beginning part of the video while I’m away from the bin the roly polys are moving around and hiding.  After watching that I’ll remove them as planned next time I’m in the bin.

IMG_0834

August 18, Bin 1, Roly Poly

 

IMG_0836

August 18, Bin 1, Roly Poly

There were no roaches or odors.  Everything looked good in there.  The worms were below the surface as I usually find them when there is little waste in the bin.  Below is a short video that shows how the roly polys moved before I could see them and the conditions of the bin. -13

 

Worm bin notes: Fermenting, Lizards & Disappearing Spiders

Part 1

Bins 2 & 3, Update 11. Not sure where to start. Lack of time, loss of memory and blog access has me trying to remember any of the last few weeks I’ve been so busy catching up.

It starts off my not having taken notes on paper or used Notes on my computer.  Not much into Apple so I’m not using or familiar with most of the apps on this computer.  No excuse to not use the one that I like using though.  Lack of time is another issue that I can’t do much about.  Some of the crazy starts with the image below.

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 8.15.26 PM

See that?  That is what it was like for me to login and try to update my site. Couldn’t get past it.  Check out Blank Page Mayhem! to find out more on that experience.

Finally able to login, here I sit trying to remember those details I didn’t write down.  Moving from one project to another, I won’t remember, that’s what my notes are for! Have to laugh at that one. Anyway, I’ll do my best.

Bin 2 had signs of worm activity on the walls of the bin and upper lip.  My thought is that the worms were trying to get more food because of the time span between adding waste.  As I was thinking about writing this several memories of similar circumstances makes me think it’s something else.  I suspect the worms are fleeing the fermenting mangos or any fermenting fruit.

IMG_0610

July 20 Mango bin 2

The first time I put mangos in the bins they went in whole.  When checking them several days later I noticed the smell that fermenting fruit makes as soon as I opened the lid.  I also noticed the worms trailings at the sides/top and no worms were visible at the surface.  All I remember thinking at the time was not to put whole skinned fruits/vegetables in without cutting them so the worms could get to them.

IMG_0682

August 9 Mango bin 2

Sometimes mangos were added in whole then opened days later after they’d had a chance to ripen.  That didn’t work as well as cutting them into halves or quarters then placing the fruit onto the soil.  Or letting them set a short time outside the bin until the skins peeled off by hand.  Many of the videos show it.  After I started cutting the fruit I never noticed the fermenting smells.  The last few times I’ve added mangos I sliced down to the pit multiple times without cutting it into pieces to open up the skin and give the worms access.

IMG_0725

August 12, bin 2, sliced mango.

That turned out to be nearly the same as not cutting them.  The fruit fermented and built up gasses under the cardboard covers I use.  I noticed it when I opened the bins for a quick check and didn’t put it in my notes.  Now I think the worms are trying to get away from the gasses building up under the cardboard.  It seems like the fruit goes through a shorter ferment process after its been opened or maybe it doesn’t do it afterward.  I’m not sure how that works.

IMG_0801

August 18, bin 2, sliced mango.

What is clear is how fast the worms consume it after it’s been cut.  Lesson learned, cut the fruit open.

Back to bin 2.  The observation of the worm trails led to the above so that’s covered.  There is also an example of not cutting or opening a mango.  July 20th to August 9th, as can be seen in the video, the worms haven’t accessed the fruit yet.  They’re trying, they don’t until it’s opened and spread around.  Then it goes fast.

Added a salad that had dressing and shrimp.  I removed the shrimp, then spread the salad out to see how the worms would deal with it.  Looks like no problem so far there’s almost nothing left.

IMG_0691

August 9th, bin 2, salad experiment

IMG_0798

August 18th, bin 2, salad experiment

The video started out as one video but it seemed too long so I cut it into two parts.  The first part is little over 8 minutes, only bin 2.  Part 2, 7 minutes, is only bin 3 stuff.  Simple I know but seems like the best idea for now.  Probably change my mind later.  Part 1 is below.

 

 

Part 2

Bin 3 starts with my Aug. 9th check.  I opened the bin and started removing the cardboard, out of I don’t know where a lizard about 4 inches long ran over the top edge of the bin then hid under it.  It was fast I hardly had time to see it but I’m nearly sure it was an anole.  This led to another observation.

On several occasions I’ve opened the bins in the past and noticed that almost all or all of the spiders that had populated the bin would be gone.  Around that same time I’ve also seen lizards around the bins.  I remember for sure a gecko was inside bin 1 before I dumped it and there were no spiders in there again for months after I’d ran the gecko off.  It had cleaned them out.

After a lizard cleans out the spiders it takes a few months before another one finds its way in and starts the process all over.  I think the gecko that was in bin 2 last time had not been in there long because I was looking at the spider population and trying to figure out where to move them when I saw it.  In the future I’ll try to leave the lizard in the bin or put it in another to clean out the spiders if the population is getting uncomfortable.

That’s if I can catch it.  Another thing I’m hoping to address for the videos is how the yellow glove affects the picture as my hand is moving around inside the bin.  It’s amazing how much it can change the picture.  Looks like the lights are getting dimmer then brighter.  It’s too much!  I ordered a black pair of rubber gloves to see if it will help.  More on them in a future blog after I use them.  Almost sure it will make a big difference.

In the past I’ve added sweet pepper cut offs then forgot to check on the progress.  When I remembered to check there wasn’t a trace so I never knew what happened to them.  This time I have a small bunch and a clean area to experiment with.  The before and after pictures show how little interest they have in them throughout decomposition.

IMG_0714

August 9th, bin 3, sweet pepper experiment.

IMG_0813

August 18th, bin 3, sweet pepper experiment.

The worms were spotted around the peppers but never in them. I think the condition of the other waste in the same bin over the same time frame also shows how little interest they had in the peppers. Check out the pictures. It’s like most of it was never there.

IMG_0715

August 9th, bin 3, usual vegetable waste.

IMG_0817

August 18th, bin 3, usual vegetable waste.

I think if the worms were interested in the peppers, that they would look like what happened to the other waste pile I put in there at the same time. Gone. There were more peppers that were thrown into our outdoor compost.

So it’s, cut the fruit up, ventilation, try the new gloves, lizard spider control services if you can catch them and by all means take notes.  Got it!  Part 2 is below.  -13

 

Worm bin notes: Population Grows

Update 9, Bin 1.  Could have wrote this and made the video days ago but got sidetracked on the Project: Closed Caption Words matter, in a world of silence. marathon.  Then I also somehow had in mind I needed to wait until I documented the progress of the last additions to bins 2 & 3.  Not sure why, I didn’t plan on getting back into the bin until the next round of waste is ready to add.

There hasn’t been as much waste material over the last few weeks so it took a little longer between feedings.  I’d rather not disturb them and let things progress with as little interference as possible.  It seems like things work much better that way.   This bin has had a few disturbances with the roaches.  That left me digging around in there when I otherwise would not have been.

IMG_0554

July 20, 2018 Condition of bin after waste added.

It does look like the roach rodeo roundup was successful.  Didn’t see anything in there.  The white dot bugs are abundant and active.  The earwig looking things have been slow to populate.  I wonder if the roly polys have anything to do with it?  The roly polys population is growing really fast.

IMG_0648

August 9, 2018 Untouched since July 20th.

I was worried about them in a confined area and over population.  Have an idea to try and get some out and add to my yard compost and other areas where leaf litter builds up.  More on that in the next blog/video since I don’t have the details worked out yet.

IMG_0668

August 9, 2018 After checking for roaches waste was added.

The mangos don’t want to quit.  I thought I had killed them off last time but as the evidence shows, it didn’t work.  This time I broke the sprout to see how it works.  The bin had no odors and it appeared that all the waste added last time was completely gone.  Except for the potato skins which, over time I’ve noticed takes some time to decompose.

The worms were hard to find at the surface, had to dig a little to make sure of their health.  That’s usually how it is when all the waste at the top has been consumed.  They looked like they’re doing well.  My next visit will be to remove some of the roly polys and take them to other useful places.  Now that it looks like the roaches are gone the bin can be left to progress without chaos.  The issue will be finding enough waste to keep the eating machine running.  -13

 

Worm bin notes: Gecko Chaos, All Is Well & Censorship?

Bins 2 & 3, Update 10, 20 July  It dawned on me editing the video that this is a good subject for school kids and I like cussing, so I’ll cuss as much as usual. Or, add a few extra to keep your on your toes, the only difference is I’ll bleep it out.  I won’t use the normal bleep sound.  There are all kinds of interesting and fun sound effects that are a much better substitute.  I’d rather be me, do the bleeps and still have something that may have educational value that a family could watch together.

CENSORED

Since that’s why I started all this to begin with.  Documenting examples of things I did not see on video/photo.  There are always lots of words often with no photographs or video.  I’ve thrown several food waste items in my bins I’m not sure how many times over the last two years successfully.  Then read online at various websites how this or that is a never, no-no, ever! kind of thing.  The worms in these bins have a different opinion on what they find acceptable.

Following no dogma, I like to see for myself, the who, what, when and where.  Then share what is discovered with video/photographic examples.  Much is edited out of my videos for brevity.  I don’t want to waste time with unnecessary footage that doesn’t add anything or document an actual event.  Update 10 video for bins 2 & 3 has more footage than usual because extraordinary events did happen.  It will show more detail how the bins are maintained and recorded.

Bin 2 starts with a little excitement when I discover a gecko in the bin.  Didn’t notice it when the cardboard was moved all the spiders were distracting me.  While I was trying to figure out where and what to do the with more than 20 spiders I spotted a gecko in the bin.

IMG_0588

20 July Spiders do well in bin 2

Once you see them you have to move fast or loose your chance to catch them.  When this happens I’m usually able to catch it and let it go outside.  This time all the chaos and my unsuccessful attempt at capture and release was recorded.  Maybe next time.  Hope I get it before the cats do.

IMG_0592

20 July Bin 2 Gecko

As can be seen in the photos in this blog and in the video, the worms and other insects have picked everything clean.  It’s amazing to see.  The mangos want to grow don’t they?  It looks like a nursery for mangos seedlings.

IMG_0606

20 July Bin 2 Mangos reaching for the sun

There was no noticeable odor or roaches.  Overall it looks good inside bin two.  The addition of more worms has clearly worked.

IMG_0602

20 July Bin 2 Picked clean mango seeds

Bin 3  Not much to note about this bin.  No odor, no roaches or chaos.  A single mango seedling trying like all the others.

IMG_0626

20 July Bin 3

There must be a lot of worms in bin 3 because they clean the waste in there like a boss.  Look at the photo below or better, the video.  What an amazing transformation.

IMG_0489

July 7 Bin 3

IMG_0628

20 July Bin 3

The video has as much as the fun and excitement as the camera could capture. Would liked to have caught the lizard and moved it off the porch to think if the cats get it leaves me unsettled. But that is life in or on any porch in Florida, a deathtrap for lizards when there is no food source or in many cases, they’re on the menu.  Seems like I have a few regular viewers and readers of the blog.  That’s a surprise.  Hope you find something useful here while you visit. -13